Toro Y Moi Delves Into the Understated Beauty of Love and Loss on Ambient ‘Boo Boo’
“Boo Boo” is Chaz Bear’s (formerly Bundick) first solo effort since 2015’s “What For?” Returning for his fifth LP under his stage name Toro Y Moi, “Boo Boo” finds Bear returning to his emotional synth roots. His previous works dabbled in grooving funk, R&B, trap, soul and psych-rock but here he delves deeper into the atmospheric sounds that made “Causers of This” and “Underneath the Pine” so beloved while still managing to keep the instrumentation fresh and the lyrical content poignantly vulnerable.
Focusing on the period of time where Chaz experienced the dissolution of a personal relationship while simultaneously garnering nationwide fame, “Boo Boo” does an amazing job of giving voice to such a taxing moment in time. Navigating through issues of post breakup identity as well as the disassociating effects of celebrity, it is clear what started as a chillwave experiment has become something much more serious. Fans will find Bear’s return one worthy of a replay.
“I just want everyone to have a good time – I really do,” Chaz spits over a throbbing funk beat, and you know he means it. “Mirage” opens the album with a cooly convincing call to the dance floor. Dreamlike minimalism lets your subconscious populate what the rest of this fantasy will look like. The scarcity of background noise allows Chaz’s emotional lyrics to become the cornerstone of the record, each track blending into the next 80s style, every one hinging on its predecessor’s message. The understated bass lines and distant chimes on “No Show” only help to accent the song’s raw verses, the atmospheric instrumentals pairing perfectly with his admission of just how much he allowed his public persona to negatively affect his interpersonal relationships. The dark, detached tone allows listeners to empathize with his detachment from his pre-fame reality.
“You and I,” “Boo Boo’s” second single is also the album’s emotional crossroad. A slow burning ballad, Bear delves into a stream of consciousness that becomes his way of making sense of his failed relationship, “Just to summarize, I don’t think we’re done with all the issues / I don’t think it’s me, I don’t think it’s you, it’s the universe.” Things do pick up in tracks like “Inside My Head” where we find a bit of the funky grooves “Underneath the Pine” gave us while still maintaining this record’s gray overcast.
Rounding out “Boo Boo” with the masterfully auto-tuned single, “Girl Like You,” this familiar tale of unrequited love is accented by Bear’s signature rich melodies. A beautiful stroke of piano melts with Bear’s melancholy vocals, channeling the moving qualities we have come to associate with the likes of Travis Scott. Lyrics like “I think I could have left you standing there alone / I think there’s some things that are better left unknown” let the post breakup self reflection truly sink in.
Chaz has struck a wonderful balance here between expressing his most recent personal discovery and incorporating his original sonic stylings in these new tracks. “Boo Boo” does a great job of harkening back to the sound that landed Toro Y Moi in the spotlight years ago while still weaving in mature and nuanced lyrics throughout its hour runtime. It’s an exploration of emptiness, depression and the transformative powers of self reflection. The understated melodies give the tracks room to breathe and develop, it’s ambient nature reflective of the artist’s headspace and willingness to take things as they come.